All roads lead to Uhuru Park for protesters' memorial concert

Uhuru Park in Nairobi. 

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

Hundreds of youths are expected to march to Uhuru Park on Sunday for a concert in honour of protesters who died during protests against the Finance Bill.

The date coincides with the 1990 Saba Saba uprising that led to the country's second liberation, and the event will be used to reflect on Kenya's history.

Activist Boniface Mwangi announced plans for the commemorative concert on his official X account earlier this week, writing: "On Sunday, artists have organised a memorial concert in Uhuru Park in honour of the Kenyans who died during the protests. All relevant government departments have been informed".

The event, dubbed the Shujaaz Memorial Concert, will take place from 12pm to 7pm and will include Gen Z and Millennials as well as other people from outside the two generations who have pledged to support the course.

On Friday, July 5, Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja confirmed that the concert will go ahead once the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) completes its investigations, as the park has been an active crime scene due to recent vandalism.

"Uhuru Park belongs to Kenyans and Nairobians; it doesn't belong to me. I am just a custodian of this resource. I know it is currently an active crime scene, but I hope the DCI will complete his work promptly," said Sakaja, who also confirmed that he would be attending the event.

"We will support this statement. This concert is in honour of the young people we have lost. It is good to honour them and their families and see what support we can give them. I will be there because these are my constituents," he added.

Hours later, police officers in the Nairobi region were ordered to contact the organisers of the memorial event and agree on how it should be conducted and managed.

According to the organisers, the event was to begin with a planned prayer at the nearby All Saints Cathedral before the event began.

The gates to the venue, where several artists are expected to perform, will open at 9am.

Mwangi said in a poster shared on his X platform that rappers Khaligraph Jones, Octopizzo, Juliani, singers Bien, Fena, Nameless, Eric Wanaina, Charisma, Sarabi band, Graffiti Band and Field Marshall's band among others will perform.

Attendees have been encouraged to bring flowers as a gesture of remembrance and peace.

On Friday, for the first time in Kenya's history, President William Ruto faced the wrath of Kenyans who asked him unfiltered questions about his government's shortcomings and abuses. 

At an X Space meeting attended by over 160,000 Kenyans, the Head of State struggled to defend his government's unpopular policies, even as he pledged to reform critical areas.

The president was invited to X Space by Gen Z and millennial protesters who rejected a proposal to set up a task force to address issues affecting them.

Social media platforms have changed the conversation in Kenya in recent weeks, bringing citizens closer to the authorities and giving them a largely unfiltered forum to ask tough questions.

Never before has a president exposed himself to this and responded to the public in real time.

Ruto, saying he "understood the anger" of Kenyans, began by saying he would do what he was accused of failing to do: listen first. 

For nearly two hours, he listened to questions and withstood accusations and near-insults, at one point dropping the F* word and later being accused of dodging some of the questions.

The President was grilled on the Kenya Kwanza government's lack of empathy, broken promises, arrogance, disregard for constitutional rights and lack of accountability, among other issues.

The youth are demanding significant changes in the government, including the dismissal of cabinet secretaries accused of corruption and misuse of public funds.